Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado came up short in the Wild Card Series for St. Louis, but having MVP caliber players struggle like that is nothing new for the Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals had a lot go wrong in their two-game Wild Card Series sweep at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies – with one of the biggest issues being the lack of production from Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
No one is defending their performances, and after combining to go 1-15 in the series, it has been a major source of frustration for Cardinals fans. Arenado appeared to mostly be unlucky during the series, but was unable to come up big when the club needed him. Goldschmidt’s underlying numbers indicate that this may be a bigger issue for him, but he is still likely the National League Most Valuable Player.
It would be easy to point to these two players and say they just do not have what it takes in big moments like this, but past Cardinals legends have had similar struggles.
In Games 1 and 2 of the 2004 World Series, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds, or as many know them as the “MV3”, went 4-23 at the plate as the Cardinals went down 2-0 before eventually being swept by the Boston Red Sox. Talk about going cold when the club needed them the most. Pujols is one of the best hitters of all-time, Rolen may end up making the Hall of Fame in 2023, and Edmonds is one of the best hitters of his generation.
Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds finished 3rd, 4th, and 5th in NL MVP voting respectively that year, and were easily the best trio in all of baseball. Fans felt similar frustrations in the moment with their superstars, but no one would ever have wanted to see any of those guys leave the team in the offseason. Baseball is a game of failure, and sometimes the timing of these things goes against you.
Do the Cardinals need Goldschmidt and Arenado to come through next year in October? Of course. Every team needs their superstars to come through when it matters most. But to throw their 2022 seasons out the window because of a two game stretch or expect them to never come through in the future is not awarding enough respect to their greatness.